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John Gerassi collection of Jean-Paul Sartre

Call Number: GEN MSS 441

Scope and Contents

The John Gerassi Collection of Jean-Paul Sartre consists of manuscripts by Sartre, and interviews with Sartre and his contemporaries. Gathered by John Gerassi during the preparation of his biography Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of his Century (1989; University of Chicago Press), the collection spans the years 1964-1985,

As detailed in Gerassi's biography, Sartre was a close friend of Gerassi's parents, Fernando and Stepha. As an adult, Gerassi's friendship with Sartre continued. Sartre eventually asked Gerassi to write his biography and agreed to a series of interviews recorded between 1970-1974. A companion series of interviews with Sartre's friends, contemporaries, and enemies was made in 1973. These interviews comprise Series I. Interviews , which consists of transcripts. The original audiotapes, along with duplicates made on Ampex reel-to-reel tape, are stored with Restricted Materials. In a few cases where a transcript was not received, the original recording is cited. Specific omissions include:

No transcript received for: Sartre interview #3, Part I; "Sartre interview for Ramparts", 1971 Apr 22; Simone de Beauvoir interviews, 1973 May 14 and Nov 15; Troupe Matthews interview, 1985 May 2;

No original tape received for: Francis Jeanson interview, 1973 Nov 13-14; Claude Morgan interview, 1973 Jun 6; David Rousset interview, 1973 Mar 14

No Sartre interview #7 exists, due to an original miscount.

Audio duplicates have been made for all of the interviews. [They will be made available on audio CDs for consultation in the Beinecke Library.]

Series II, Other Papers , includes notes and drafts prepared by Sartre for a series of lectures prepared for the Gramsci Insitute in Rome in 1964. These notes were typed by Arlette Elkaim. Sartre then reworked these notes into a book-length manuscript, which was typed by the publishing house Gallimard in 1964. This typescript original, uncorrected, was later returned to Sartre, who gave it to John Gerassi.

The collection also includes notes on ethics, stretching to 800 manuscript pages, prepared for a course proposed for Cornell University in 1965. These notes are unpaginated and have been kept in the order in which they were received in 5 folders according to placement in original binders. Sartre did not come to Cornell in protest of the US bombing of North Vietnam. Sartre later gave these materials to Gerassi.

Series II also contains "Sartre's reading in Youth", an annotated list by Sartre of books he read at specific periods of his life. This list was made by Sartre at Gerassi's request.

This series concludes with notes from Gerassi about the origin and content of the collection, as well as the original folders in which the material was received.


  • 1964 - 1998


Physical Description

Other Storage Formats: Audiotape boxes, Compact Discs

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 8-13 (sound recordings): Restricted fragile material. Use copies of audiotapes have been created for consultation. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copies (on compact disc) of audiotapes available.

Conditions Governing Use

The John Gerassi Collection of Jean-Paul Sartre is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Glenn Horowitz on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 1998.


6.5 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection consists primarily of audio interviews made by John Gerassi with Jean-Paul Sartre between 1970 and 1974. A companion group of interviews with Sartre's family, friends, and foes was made in 1973. Included in this group are: Raymond Aron, Simone de Beauvoir, Arlette Elkaim-Sartre, Claude Lanzmann, and J. B. Pontalis. The majority of these interviews have transcripts. Among the other papers are various works by Sartre on Ethics, in the form of lecture notes and manuscript drafts prepared in the 1960s as well as a list by Sartre of books he read in different periods of his life. Also included are notes by John Gerassi on the origin of the collection.

JEAN-PAUL SARTRE (1905-1980)

The life of Jean-Paul Sartre, French novelist and Existentialist philosopher, has been recounted in numerous books. Of particular relevance to this collection is John Gerassi's own biographical study, Jean-Paul Sartre: Hated Conscience of his Century (1989; University of Chicago Press).
Guide to the John Gerassi Collection of Jean-Paul Sartre
Under Revision
by Timothy G. Young
June 1999
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.